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How do you deal with pent-up anger? Do you try to tamp it down? Confide in a friend and get all your thoughts out? Or do you wait until it’s no longer manageable to expel negativity over everyone? 

When we speak to the people who know a client well, we find out how their colleagues, friends and partners perceive them. Almost always, there is something not quite balanced in how people use their power. They tend either to use too much or too little power for the situation. Too much comes across as pushy or bullying and too little comes across as passive or flakey. 

One way to clarify this is to do a venting practice. While it may sound strange it’s remarkably effective, especially for people in a partnership, like co-founders, or in a romantic relationship. Both need their fair share of venting to release built-up emotions and make sure the heat that inevitably builds up in naturally passionate people is not taken personally.

Tell-tale signs

Invite each partner to be alert to the level of heat in the other, and to take the initiative to change the dynamic whenever you sense things heading into a tense, awkward, upset or angry moment. More often than not, the heat is coming from how we are together, how we are listening and speaking, not the content of the conversation. Instead of trying to hold off the tension, call a pause and release the energy.

The Venting Practice to try:

This practice has clear boundaries. The rules of engagement are different from a normal conversation. Both people have to understand and agree to the ground rules. 

If there is a need to vent, ask your partner “can we have a venting session”? Set a timer for 5 minutes. The “venter” - gets to speak about whatever is bothering them. No need for it to be rational or sensical. This is a time for everything to come out. The “listeners” job is to put up the plexi glass so to speak, and not take any of it in personally. This is not about the truth or feedback. It’s simply and only a space for the “venter” to get this stuff off their chest, to release the pent up energy. The “listener” agrees not to hold onto any of this venting, not to take on anything that is said or implied and let the venter expel their feelings without judgment. When the time is over, it is done and forgotten. 

Releasing emotions consciously makes such a difference. See how it can work for you. It is so much safer to vent your anger deliberately before the heat rises to the point of inflicting damage. I’d love to hear your experience with this. We all need a good venting session once in a while!

All the best,

David Lesser